How to love: Attachment versus real love

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is how to love. I thought I knew what it was and how to do it, but I came to find out it’s quite a task! You may wonder why I say this, and I will gladly explain myself. Our material driven society is based on attachment to stuff, feelings of pleasure, and other people. We buy things because that gives us a good feeling, we go out to get that same pleasure, we even date people just because it makes us feel a certain way. These actions are not driven by love but by attachment. Most of us don’t even realize this consciously, but there is a difference between loving and attachment. But if you love someone you are naturally attached to them right? That is where we all go wrong. To really love is to let go and love that person without wanting anything in return. The first time I learned about this is when me and my boyfriend of that time broke up. We both loved each other very much, and we both knew in our hearts that we could not be together, so we let go of each other without ending the love we had. This happened naturally because it was real and unconditional love.

Definition: Exaggerated not wanting to be separated from someone or something. (Exact opposite of Aversion) Because the label of “pleasant” is very relative and based upon limited information, Attachment includes an aspect of exaggeration or “projection”. (Source: View On Buddhism)

So in order to learn how to love we have to learn how to let go. Loving someone is also  loving when they don’t want to be with you anymore. It’s still loving them even though they have started loving someone else too. And sometimes that even means saying goodbye, knowing that you’ll never talk to them again, just because you really love them. I am from a generation of children where lots of families around me are broken up, and these situations are traumatic for children and leave their scars even long after they have reached adulthood. I grew up without internet or mobile phones and saw them all come into our lives. The technological and economic growth was happening big and fast. I am the last one to say that these changes were bad, because I am still enjoying them everyday of my life, but I will say that there has been a shift in morals, values and the things that matter to us. Sometimes I feel like this generation is so focused on instant pleasure, that we do not know that with loving someone you also need to practice patience, understanding, gratitude, loyalty and selflessness. Sometimes it’s not even that pleasurable, but it can really stress you out! That is all part of the process of learning and growing and eventually evolving from those experiences of learning how to love. But in our material driven world this effort and sacrifice that is needed in order to get there is too much to ask, or so it seems at times. And platforms like television and social media only feed these mindsets. The temptation, or even programming, speaks to our desire to experience instant pleasure. Some of it short term and some last a little bit longer, but it is not fulfilling at the end of the day. It will still leave you with that same emptiness you had when you started, and so the cycle continues.

Holding on to things will evidently lead to pain.  This is a fact because nothings stays the same forever; change is the only thing we can be certain of in life. So in order to love without getting hurt or, as the Buddhist would say ”eliminate suffering to find enlightenment” we need to love without attachment. “Desire can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens? Does it lead to happiness? If we say: “Oh, look at that beautiful fire! Look at the beautiful colors! I love red and orange; they’re my favorite colors,” and then grasp it, we would find a certain amount of suffering entering the body. And then if we were to contemplate the cause of that suffering we would discover it was the result of having grasped that fire. On that information, we would hopefully, then let the fire go. Once we let fire go then we know that it is something not to be attached to. This does not mean we have to hate it, or put it out. We can enjoy fire, can’t we? It’s nice having a fire, it keeps the room warm, but we do not have to burn ourselves in it.”(Source: View On Buddhism)

This is so beautifully described and it really speaks to my soul. I used to compare holding on to something with trying to hold on to sand: the tighter your grip gets, the faster the sand will slip away through your fingers. The fire example is more strong because it also integrates pain into it. And so in learning how to really love we have to learn how to let go so that we are free of that suffering. In loving without attachment, loving without expectations, and loving without holding a grudge or getting dissapointed, is so much freedom! The more I understand this and master it the more joy I experience through loving. Because there is no more right or wrong! No more ”how to do it”. It just flows naturally and therefore it is real and overwhelming and everlasting! I don’t need anyone to love me in order for me to love them. I just do! I love them all! And the funny thing with the universe it what you send out, comes back to you. So just keep on loving yourself and everyone around you and it will eventually find its way back to you without any (strings) attach(ed)ment.

Note: If you are inspired by this post and want to learn more about Buddhism and their views on attachment please visit the website I just linked at twice already View On Buddhism! It is filled with knowledge and it’s a very interesting read.

Love, Surya

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Surya Tanya